Last month, we had a birthday celebration with my grandchildren. We had a great time, but discovered a deep gap in their learning. As polite children will do, my grandson opened his card before opening his present. He stood in front of our family group with a sheepish grin on his face.
His Mom asked, “Who is it from?” He said, “I don’t know, I can’t read cursive.” My grandson entered ninth grade this week, and he can’t read cursive! I am stunned and deeply disturbed.
I am aware that learning to write cursive has fallen by the wayside, but it never occurred to me that the natural result is that these students can’t read cursive. The inability to write and be legible is troubling.
Have you seen anything written by a person? Unless the nuns were involved somewhere down the road, it’s a fair bet that the writing will be indecipherable.
This generation is already behind the eight ball when it comes to communication and clear thought. It seems everything has been boiled down to a device and symbols for words. That is all well and good provided a person has a foundation to build from. Unfortunately, some steps are being obliterated. It is my opinion that this will result in several negative, unintended outcomes.
One loss will be the connectedness one has with the past. Over the years, I have saved many pieces of ephemera that bring the writer to mind and help maintain a close connection. I’m thinking especially of handwritten notes from my parents and grandmother. They are a priceless treasure to me.
I just finished writing a thank you note to my nephew. Gee, I hope he can read cursive. As a wedding gift, he made a stunning stained-glass window. It is my belief that the gift deserves to be acknowledged with a thoughtful, personal response. Yes, I am old-fashioned, but I think connectedness to people is the core of living in a civil world.
Over the years, I have stopped sending gifts to people who are important to me. Not because they are less important but because they have failed to acknowledge receipt of a gift. It is embarrassing to ask if a package has arrived. If someone cares enough to think about you, who you are and attempts to choose an especially meaningful gift to make you feel special, it is hurtful to have no acknowledgment given.
But I digress; back to cursive. The very act of putting pen to paper to write down what you are feeling or to explore the events of your life add a clarity of thought that results from the physical act of focusing our mind on the task. Many courses in creativity have, as an integral tool, journaling. It is a way of generating ideas and putting anxieties to rest.
In counseling, it is often recommended that before engaging in a potentially difficult interaction, people take the time to write what it is they are feeling and what it is they hope to communicate. It is much more likely that the conversation will successfully transmit their concerns precisely because they are clear.
There has been immense pressure in our educational system to teach the Common Core. The inability to read and write cursive leaves students at a distinct disadvantage. Holy cow, they can’t even read the Declaration of Independence. Shouldn’t this skill be included in the Common Core?